hello, and welcome to nhk "newsline." i'm ross mihara in tokyo. philippine military sources say china is reclaiming land in disputed waters in the south china sea. they say they've confirmed that workers have been moving sand on to two reefs in the spratly islands. the philippines and china are locked in a sovereignty dispute over the islands. china has already built several new islands in the archipelago. now workers are building on two other reefs.
philippine military officials estimate that chinese workers have reclaimed at least 90,000 square meters of land. they say china's military is likely to use it for runways and radar systems. the philippine president flies into japan on tuesday for talks with prime minister shinzo abe and tensions with china are expected to be high on the agenda. an egyptian court has handed down prison terms to journalists for the al jazeera news network. they were charged with helping a terrorist organization. authorities label the muslim brotherhood as such after last year's coup and are putting pressure on members of the media critical of the government and the military. the court in cairo gave seven-year jail terms to an australian reporter and the cairo bureau chief who is an egyptian national. an egyptian producer was sentenced to an additional three years on a separate weapons charge. the three have already been detained. australian foreign minister julie bishop says the australian
national was in egypt to report on the political situation, not to support the muslim brotherhood. >> we will now initiate contact at the highest levels in the new egyptian government to see whether we can gain some kind of intervention from the new government. >> human rights organizations are criticizing the court rulings as a serious infringement of press freedoms. a member of tokyo's governing body has admitted shouting a sexist jeer at a colleague while she spoke at an assembly meeting. the jeer drew domestic and international criticism. nhk world's takafumi terui has more. please note that the following footage contains flash photography. >> reporter: akihiro suzuki on monday apologized to your party member ayaka shiomura.
suzuki is a member of the governing liberal democratic party. the heckling came when shiomura was commenting on government support for working mothers at an assembly meeting last week. >> reporter: other hecklers questioned whether she was capable of having a baby. shiomura could not identify who made the jeers. the many assembly members say they came from the area where ldp members were seated. party officials dragged their feet when pressed to find out who made the jibes. the taunting drew criticism from both home and abroad. >> translator: it's discrimination against women. it's awful. >> translator: i think the
heckles represent something latent in japanese society. i don't think this is an isolated case. >> reporter: several foreign media outlets reported the incident. the reuters news agency said women in japan are often encouraged to leave their job after having a child. and it cited prime minister shinzo abe's promise to mobilize the power of women to revitalize the economy. japan's top government spokesperson also criticized the comments. >> translator: it's regrettable that this happened at a time when the abe government is promoting a society in which women have a more important role. it's obvious the comments were inappropriate. those who heckled should own up. >> reporter: suzuki confessed to taunting shiomura about being single after first denying that he had shouted at her.
>> translator: i made the remark hoping to encourage more people to get married at a time when many are doing so later in life, but it lacked sensitivity when some people cannot get married, even though they want to. i'm deeply sorry for what i said. >> reporter: shiomura says she heard more than one jeer at the meeting. >> translator: i'm sure suzuki is not the only one who heckled. it would be odd if he were the only person who came forward. >> reporter: suzuki claims he only made the one jibe. ldp assembly members say they have yet to confirm whether any other party members shouted sexist comments in the meeting. takafumi terui, nhk world, tokyo. u.s. secretary of state john kerry is in baghdad and met with
prime minister nuri al maliki. analysts say he's likely using the trip to urge the iraqi leader to form a more inclusive government. kerry arrived on monday following visits to egypt and jordan. he held talks with diplomatic leaders from both nations to find ways to end the fighting. iraq's shia-led government forces are intensifying air strikes on positions held by sunni muslim militants. the insurgents are expanding their offensive and capturing more cities outside the capital. kerry is believed to have outlined to maliki the u.s. plan to send up to 300 military advisers to help government forces. the prime minister faces an uphill battle as the divide between sunni and shia muslims deepens. iraq's top shia cleric, grand ayatollah ali al sistani, is calling for people to join the battle against the extremists. south korean authorities say a soldier has been captured two days after allegedly killing five of his comrades and then going on the run.
they say he shot himself in the chest in a suicide attempt. military officials say on saturday the soldier suddenly threw a hand grenade and then fired his automatic rifle at fellow troops. the incident occurred while he was on frontline duty near the military border with north korea. seven soldiers were wounded in the attack. the shooter fled, carrying his rifle and ammunition. troops and police surrounded a forest where the soldier had been spotted. officials say soldiers were about seven meters away and his father was trying to persuade him to surrender before he shot himself. they say he's conscious. they plan to interrogate him after his condition stabilizes. three japanese automakers are recalling millions of vehicles over a defect in passenger side air bags. honda, nissan, and mazda say the devices could explode. the vehicles are fitted with air bags from japanese auto parts maker takata corporation.
officials with japan's transport ministry say the inflaters contain improperly manufactured chemicals. reuters news agency says the recall affects nearly 3 million vehicles. honda has recalled ten models, including the fit, accord, and civic. nissan has recalled the cube, x-trail, and eight other models. mazda has recalled the atenza and rx-8. the recall covers models produced between august 2000 and december 2005. time to check on the markets. an economist with deutsche bank in new york has the details. >> the upward surprise in may existing home sales was the new economic data today, however, the markets shrugged this off
given geopolitical concerns out of thepped less than 0.1%. back to the housing figures, the housing sector had fallen into a soft patch in q4 of last year due to rising mortgage rates, and that continued into q1 this year as harsh winter weather set in. this was causing consternation among a lot of market forecasters. however, most housing activities concentrated into a spring buying season, which is only now getting under way, and for this reason the most recent home sales data was particularly important. the volume of transactions rose 5% in the month. that was the highest level of transactions since october of last year, and equally important, home prices were up 5% in year on year terms. this increase in home prices, while shy of the peak in home prices before the housing market collapse in 2007, the ongoing rise in home prices is creating
new wealth for homeowners, and this is supporting consumer spending. given a combination of lower utility bills now that winter has passed, newly created housing wealth, and also firmer income growth due to the recovery in the labor market, this should support consumer spending. that's one of the key data releases later on this week. thursday we get the may personal income and spending report. within that report, we expect these factors to push consumer spending to a 4.5% growth rate in year on year terms. that will be a two-year high. this gives us confidence that, while sluggish, the economy is moving in the right direction and possibly on the cusp of a significant acceleration. >> and now a recap of the market figures.
>> it's time for highlights from the world cup in brazil. the netherlands met chile. netherlands score nd the 77th minute. a win with a strike in the dying minutes. only pride was at stake for spain and australia, both already out of the tournament. spain was ahead in the first half. torres addsed a second in the
69th minute. and juan mata sealed the victory eight minutes from time. spain won 3-0, their first win of the tournament. the netherlands topped the group, chile are the runners up and go through to the final 63. reigning champion spain avoided the elmbarrassment of finishing last in their group. one month after thailand's military coup, any return to civilian rule still seems like a distant goal. supporters of the ousted government are increasingly anxious. patchari raksawong has a special report from bangkok. >> life in thailand's capital appears to be returning to normal one month after the military seized power. the curfew they imposed was finally lifted on june 13th. here in downtown bangkok, the malls are starting to get busier again with more tourists and shoppers.
only a few weeks ago, this was the main stage of thailand's latest political drama. protests against the former government of prime minister yingluck shinawatra lasted for more than six months. then, on may 22nd, the military was out in force here on the day of the coup. the military insists they intervened to end thailand's political confrontation and restore stability. gatherings of five or more people have been banned. the thai media has been told not to criticize the military. army chief prayut chan-ocha has said an interim government will be installed as soon as august. the junta says elections for a civilian government won't be possible for at least a year. the divisions in thai politics have been exposed for more than a decade. parties loyal to former prime minister yingluck and thaksin shinawatra, her brother, have won every election since 2001. thaksin and yingluck remain popular in the north and
northeast where their policies were seen to help farmers. but many members of the urban middle class are deeply opposed to thaksin's influence. they accuse him and his allies of buying votes and wasting public money. the military is presenting itself as a mediator between opposing factions. it launched so-called reconciliation campaigns, complete with music, to lighten the political mood. but supporters of the ousted government are skeptical and not all of them appear ready to dance to the army's tune. nhk world's soichiro tanizawa reports. >> reporter: it's time for a street party with military personnel. people have gathered here for a music festival with a difference.
thailand's new military ruler has organized it to force what they call national reconciliation. the singers perform a song for the reconciliation process. the lyric was written by the army chief, prayut chan-ocha. ♪ >> reporter: the campaign has even reached the remote villages of the country's north and northeast. the people in these red shirt strongholds support former prime minister, thaksin shinawatra. the villagers are told it's important to cooperate with the military regime. >> translator: most people in this area are thaksin's
supporters. but we think they're very supportive of reconciliation efforts. the military is inviting these villagers to join the discussions about the country and to give their opinions. >> reporter: the junta is also trying to spread the image that the political confrontation is over. leaders of anti- and pro-thaksin groups were invited to this event. but this pro-thaksin former assemblywoman couldn't keep her loyalties bottled up. >> translator: my love for thaksin and yingluck hasn't changed. i believe the armed forces will return power to the people. they want to heal the divisions in society. >> reporter: the local commander interrupts the interview.
>> reporter: while the junta is busy publicizing its reconciliation efforts, measures have been taken to contain anti-coup groups and protesting red shirts. people in this red shirt community are keeping their true colors out of sight. they moved all their banners inside. a villager blamed pressure from the military. >> translator: we're unhappy we had to take the banners down, but we have no choice. if our leaders order us to put them up again, we'll do it right away. >> reporter: many leaders are under surveillance. kwanchai praipana's house has been blockaded along with his on-site radio station.
we tried to film at the compound but were refused permission. he told nhk by phone about his de facto house arrest. >> translator: we feel pressure from the soldiers. about 50 have been deployed in my place. we're not allowed to go into our buildings, and no one is allowed to go in. we're waiting until martial law is lifted because it's a very difficult situation. the military can summon and detain anyone so we can't do anything political. >> reporter: the military pledged its coup would bring thais closer together. but below the surface, the consolation seems a distant promise. concerns are mounting that thailand's latest chapter of political confusion is very far from over. soichiro tanizawa, nhk world.
>> reporter: while the military talks of reconciliation, pro- and anti-thaksin camps still appear very far apart. we spoke with a bangkok-based analyst who says deep grievances on both sides still need to be addressed. >> i think we're in a situation right now where we're still sort of trying to digest and understand what the junta means when they talk about reconciliation. the junta now to style themselves in the role of facilitators or somehow mentoring a process of reconciliation, that really is a tough one because it does involve one sense of a process of political settlement that thailand really needs to grapple with, and reconciliation really means compromise on the part of a variety of different political stakeholders. >> thailand is the second largest economy in asean and a manufacturing hub for the region. but years of political instability have put that status in jeopardy. tourists and investors are beginning to look at other destinations.
the military needs to make real achievements in its reconciliation campaign. otherwise, the coup one month ago may end up creating more problems than it solved. i'm patchari raksawong reporting from bangkok. emerging economic powers still struggling with poverty. emboldened citizens still demanding democracy. the threat of violence, the push for peace, the shadow of conflict. get news and insight on south and southeast asia every weekday, live from bangkok, only on nhk world "newsline." experts say if a megaquake hit tokyo or western to central regions of japan, the impact could be devastating. they say it would seriously damage petrochemical complexes in coastal areas. japanese government leaders commissioned a panel to study potential damage to the facilities.
on monday, the experts announced their findings. they say liquefaction could cause lateral ground displacement. the movement occurs when underground soil is liquefied by a quake. it could seriously damage structures both under and aboveground, especially in coastal areas. they've also studied the possible impact of the movement in 90 embankments at 25 oil refineries and chemical plants. they found that more than half of the locations would have lateral ground displacement of one meter or more. they say three meters or more would be observed at nearly 25% of the places along tokyo bay. masanori hamada says such lateral flow could have a long-term impact on the economy and people's lives. >> translator: a fire in one of those facilities in tokyo could stop ocean-going traffic in tokyo bay. there's an urgent need for measures to minimize the damage. >> the government plans to spend
about $1 billion to reinforce embankments and ensure that important facilities are earthquake resistant within seven years. ancient chinese treasures from taiwan's palace museum are on display in tokyo. an opening ceremony for the exhibit was held on monday. about 180 masterpieces are at the tokyo national museum. they include a jade carving shaped like a chinese cabbage. it's on display overseas for the first time. the show includes historic treasures from chinese dynasties. >> translator: i hope art appreciation will help promote exchange among people. >> the event runs through september. the treasures are to be shown in western japan in october and november.
in the spring, japanese enjoy cherry blossoms and in autumn the maple trees. right now we're in the rainy sees, the time for high drain gias. we report on this season's blooms. >> reporter: most people may imagine the rainy season as gray, but here it's one of the most beautiful, colorful seasons. on both sides of me, blue and violent hydrangeas are in full bloom. they smell so fresh. i'm on a path that leads to the main gate of the temple, only an hour from tokyo by train. now, people all over japan and abroad come here to enjoy the blooms. hydrangeas are at their most spectacular in the mornings so many people have been coming here to take photos since the gate opened around 8:30 a.m.
most come here for the hydrangeas. there are about 2500 of them, to be exact. it's no surprise that this place is also known as the lie drahyd temple. it was established 850 years ago. people come from year round to view the garden and japanese iris and the maple trees. now, hydrangea originated in japan. here you can find the frame hydrangea. this part may look like a flower, but it's more like the leaves, and the inside here part is the flower. it's like a picture frame. now, around me there's all these beautiful hydrangeas, so many kinds. some of them you can see morning dew on them. beautiful. next i'll show you another hydrang
hydrangea, this big, blue hydrangea named, in english, little princess hydrangea. a japanese hybrid of the first flower and the popular mopheads make up 90% of the hydrangeas in this temple. don't they just look gorgeous? and in the ito period about 200 years ago, these hydrangeas were sent to the netherlands to improve the species. over here is the western hydrangea. they are produced and re-introduced to japan, and they also come in white, red, and pink. and these hydrangeas back there, you can see the beautiful white western hydrangeas as well. now, as you can see from the visitors before, japanese adore the hydrangea in the rainy season so let's find out why. [ speaking japanese ]
>> reporter: this woman just said that this blue hydrangea really stands out under the cloudy sky and makes her forget about the wet and humid conditions. thank you. now, as you just heard, japanese know how to make the most of every season, even the rainy ones can be something to look forward to, especially because of its beautiful flowers it creates. next time you're in japan during the rainy season, be sure to visit. here is the three-day weather forecast.